Sunday, February 24, 2013

Pecan Crusted Salmon

Growing up I didn't eat fish, at all (well, I ate calamari, but only because I was tricked and bamboozled and couldn't back down after I scarfed a whole plate of fried delight.) A few years later, going out for sushi became really hip and I had to tackle my issues or compromise my cool. Obviously, I embraced the hip. THEN we moved to the Pacific Northwest. Land of drizzle, coffee and salmon. Again, I was faced with either losing out on every chef's special, or... OH WAIT, this stuff is delicious and I a fan! From plank cooked to a special combo of salmon stuffed with brie, crab and shrimp, I'm a fan. Here's a great recipe we found doing some googling a few days ago.

Pecan Crusted Salmon - from All Recipes Online
Serves 2
Preheat oven to 425

2 6oz salmon filets (we use wild caught - it's more expensive but worth the cost for health and environment benefits.) 
1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter
2 1/2 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons mustard - I used Dijon
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste 
Lemon wedges

Preheat the oven to 425. In a small bowl, mix the mustard, butter and honey. Stir until ingredients are fully incorporated. In another small mix bread crumbs, pecans and parsley. 

Place salmon filets on a parchment lined baking sheet and brush with butter, honey and mustard mixture. Cover the fish with the bread crumbs, pecans and parsley mixture. Press the nuts and bread crumbs lightly into the fish to fix them into place.

Bake for 10 minutes or until the thickest part of the fish is to the doneness you prefer. Serve with lemon and salt and pepper.

A few things about this recipe...

This was delicious and SO easy/fast/weeknight-friendly. 

Despite the ingredients, it is definitely NOT a honey-mustard flavor. It's light and sort of tangy-sweet, but not like a salad dressing.

I will change the pecan/bread crumb ratio next time and add more pecans and less bread crumbs.

I will add a bit of parmesan to the bread crumb combo the next time we make this. Why? Because parm is good. The End.

We served this with a combo of roasted potatoes and beets and a saute of swiss chard, onions and garlic. We were totally proud of our antioxidant-rich, colorful, superfood meal. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Bacon and Cheddar Quiche

Recently we asked our Facebook fans for recipe requests and some of you asked for Easter brunch ideas.  Another asked for a quiche recipe.  Well…here you have both!  This quiche is wonderful.  It was a little time-consuming because I made the crust from scratch but the prep time would only take about 20 minutes if you use store-bought crust.  Since I have fallen in love with my crust recipe, I use it as often as I can :)  I used half of the sugar in this crust than I normally do since this is a savory dish.  However, the touch of sugar balances well with the saltiness of the bacon.

The ingredients of this quiche are very simple: bacon (which makes everything yummy), a good quality white cheddar, and green onion.  The bacon gives texture to the dish and the green onions brighten it.  Quiche is a staple brunch item and is very versatile.  You can add almost any ingredient you want.  If you make it pretty and balance color and texture, it will be perfect.  Just make sure not to overcook it.  If it starts to puff up, then the eggs may be cooking too much.  Watch closely!

Bacon and Cheddar Quiche

½ tsp salt
1 1/3 c all-purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
7 tbsp very cold unsalted butter
3 tbsp very cold butter-flavored shortening
2-3 tbsp very cold water

3 eggs
1c milk
1c shredded white cheddar
6-7 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
2-3 green onions

Combine salt, flour, and sugar in a food processor bowl.  Pulse a few times to combine.  Cut butter and shortening into small pieces and add to bowl.  Pulse until small crumbs start to form.  Slowly pour water, 1 tbsp at a time, down food processor chute while pulsing.  Repeat until dough starts to come together.

Empty dough out onto floured surface and form into a small round disk.  Place in a zip-top bag and refrigerate for at least 30 mins.  Preheat oven to 400F.  Remove dough from bag and lightly flour both sides.  Roll dough out into a 10” circle and carefully move to pie pan.  Using your fingers, create the desired pie edge.

Fill piecrust with dry beans and cook on 400F for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove crust from oven and discard beans.  Reduce oven heat to 375F.

Tip: Use a pie weight or dry beans while pre-cooking the crust instead of docking (pricking with a fork).  If the egg mixture seeps into the holes, it could make the crust soggy.

Combine eggs and milk in a bowl.  Beat until combined.  Mix in remaining ingredients.  Pour egg mixture into cooked piecrust.  Cook at 375F for 30-35 mins or until well set. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Creamy Risotto with Mushrooms and Pancetta

Some people have a sweet tooth. Some people have a salty snack hankering. I love creamy. And it's still totally wintertime in Portland, so comfort food is still very high on the priority list. Risotto fit the bill. Creamy, earthy, rich and delicious. Mushrooms and pancetta make this meal just perfect! We had this for a Sunday night, special dinner.

Risotto with Mushrooms and Pancetta - inspired by Tyler Florence
Serves 4
Preheat the oven to 200

4 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups white wine (use something you like to drink)
1 4 ounce package of pancetta (or bacon cut into small pieces)
1 medium onion - chopped. About 1 cup
1 cup Parmesan cheese (I used a cheese blend from Trader Joe's)
1 cup Arborio rice
2 tablespoons butter - divided
1 10 ounce package sliced mushrooms
chopped flat leaf parsley - about 1/3 cup
Salt and pepper

Risotto isn't hard, but it is a commitment. You have to stir and you have to keep watch. It takes about 35 minutes start to finish, so the timing isn't too bad and the end results are totally worth the commitment.

In a high-sided pan and in 1 tablespoon of butter, fry the pancetta, mushrooms and onions, about 7 minutes. Once the mushrooms and onions are soft and the pancetta is browned, season with salt and pepper and transfer to an oven-proof dish. Keep the mushrooms and onions warm in the oven while you make the risotto.

In the same pan, add the second tablespoon of butter to the pan. Toast the Arborio rice for a few minutes over medium-high heat. In a second pan, heat the chicken broth - keep it hot, but not boiling. You'll need to add hot broth to the rice, not cold broth.

De-glaze the pan with the wine, stirring to pick up all of the browned bits of pancetta, mushrooms and onions. Keep stirring while the wine is absorbed. Once the wine is all absorbed, add chicken broth to the rice about 1/4 cup at a time stirring until it's absorbed each time.

Summon patience and keep adding the liquid just a bit at a time. And keep stirring. You may not need all of the broth, or you may need a bit more. Test the rice for done-ness like you would test pasta - it should have a bit of bite in the center, but shouldn't be crunchy. 

Once the rice is cooked, stir back in the mushrooms, pancetta and onions. Add in the cheese and the flat leaf parsley. Stir until combined. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with a bit more cheese. A bit more cheese is always nice.

A few things about this recipe...

This has a full wine flavor. If you like less wine flavor, use more chicken broth to come up with the same amount of liquid.

A mushroom blend would be nice.

This would be a great Valentine's Day dinner!


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Shrimp Scampi Over Orzo

Valentine’s Day is coming up!  According to our Facebook page, many of you are looking for some healthy V-Day dinner ideas.  Well, here’s a good one!  I make this all of the time during the week because it’s quick and easy.  This year, February 14th falls on a Thursday so many of you will be coming home from work and looking for something that doesn’t take hours to cook but is worthy of a special occasion. 

Treat your sweetheart to shrimp scampi over orzo.  Everyone knows how well lemon and seafood goes together.  Well, what about seafood, lemon, garlic and butter???  That is the basis for any great scampi sauce.  I served this with baby zucchini but you can make this meal restaurant-worthy by adding baked French bread and a sexy dessert such as homemade chocolate covered strawberries.  Best part about this dish?  Garlic is an aphrodisiac (wink, wink!).

Shrimp Scampi Over Orzo

1c uncooked orzo
3 tbsp butter or margarine, divided
1 tsp salt, divided
1 tsp black pepper, divided
2 garlic cloves, crushed or finely minced
1 - 1.5 lb peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
¼ c chopped fresh parsley

Cook orzo according to package directions.  Drain.  Stir in 1 tbsp butter, ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper. 

While orzo cooks, melt 2 tbsp butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add garlic.  Cook 1-2 mins until fragrant.  Add shrimp.  Sprinkle shrimp with ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper.  Once cooked on one side, add lemon juice, stir, and cook shrimp on other side.  Remove shrimp from heat.  Stir in half of the chopped parsley.

Stir remaining parsley and a small amount of the sauce from the cooked shrimp into the orzo.   Serve shrimp over orzo.